Carpio itemized long ago what Phl can do
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2019 - 12:00am

War is not an option in the West Philippine Sea row. Our Constitution forbids it. Article II, Section 2, State Principles, reads: “The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land, and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.”

Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio pointed that out as far back as July 2017. The event: a forum to mark the first anniversary of Manila’s arbitral win against China’s grab of Philippine waters (see www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/08/03/1724629/enforce-un-ruling-carpio-lists-ways). War is a “false option”, Carpio told defeatists who claim that to press the victory would only provoke China to annihilate us. Even China doesn’t want war, he said then, for it “will give the US an excuse to intervene in the sea dispute, considering the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Beijing aims to control the sea without firing a single shot. It employs the “3-warfare strategy” of psychological operations, media manipulation, and legal maneuvers, Carpio explained. (See thediplomat.com/2015/12/hybrid-warfare-with-chinese-characteristics-2/).

Carpio also tabled seven ways to “Enforce and Fortify the Arbitral Ruling” while talking with China. It seems so long ago; the responsible officials have only ignored his suggestions:

“(1) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Vietnam on our overlapping extended continental shelves (ECS) in the Spratlys, based on the tribunal ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Such agreement implements part of the ruling by state practice.

“(2) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Malaysia on our overlapping EEZ and ECS in the Spratlys, again based on the ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such agreement also implements part of the ruling by state practice.

“(3) The Philippines can initiate an agreement among all ASEAN disputants – Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Philippines – declaring that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ that could overlap with their respective EEZ. Even if only the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia will so declare, it will remove any maritime delimitation dispute among them, leaving only territorial disputes. This will isolate China as the only state claiming an EEZ from geologic features in the Spratlys.

“(4) The Philippines can file for an ECS beyond our 200-mile EEZ in the West Philippine Sea off Luzon. If China does not oppose our ECS claim, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) will award the ECS to the Philippines, similar to our ECS claim in Benham Rise where there was no opposition. If China opposes our ECS claim, China will have a dilemma on what ground to invoke. If China invokes the nine-dash lines again, the UNCLCS will reject it because the commission is bound by the ruling of the arbitral tribunal, which, like the UNCLCS, was created under UNCLOS. If China claims an overlapping ECS, then China will be admitting that the Philippines has a 200-mile EEZ from Luzon that negates its nine-dash lines.

“(5) If China prevents the Philippines from exploring and exploiting gas in the Reed Bank, which the tribunal has ruled is within Philippine EEZ, then the Philippines can file an arbitration case against China to recover actual damages that the Philippines may suffer from the failure to exploit Reed Bank due to China’s unlawful acts.

“(6) The Philippines can send Navy and Coast Guard vessels to patrol the Reed Bank and guard Philippine-commissioned survey ships exploring Reed Bank. If Chinese military sea or aircraft attack the Philippine Navy or Coast Guard, the Philippines can invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty. The US has officially clarified that the MDT covers the West Philippine Sea. While the US does not take sides in territorial disputes over geologic features there, any attack on Philippine Navy or Coast Guard vessels is covered.

“(7) In case China concretes Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines can file a new case before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal to stop it because any reclamation there will destroy the traditional fishing ground common to fishermen from the Philippines, Vietnam, and China as ruled by the arbitral tribunal.”

None of the options foment war. Beijing’s bellicosity is avoided. Filipinos of goodwill must unite for peaceful dispute resolution. Division suits well the false friend’s design of regional subjugation.

Today the forum “Three Years After Our Nation’s Arbitral Victory: An Environmental Crisis” will offer yet more peaceful ways forward. The Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute and the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea will assemble two experts’ panels, on policy and on environment. The Social Weather Station also will present its June 2019 survey on public perceptions of the sea issue.

*      *      *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives: www.philstar.com/columns/134276/gotcha

ANTONIO CARPIO WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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